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Photo from the Abel Collection

An
Air Force C-123 Provider transport is about to land just beyond the
leveled ammunition dump at Khe Sanh, bringing in much-needed supplies
.

130 tons of ammunition. After unloading, the empty aircraft joined the helicopters
of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 in evacuating wounded Marines
and civilian refugees. Attack aircraft of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing,
as well as Navy and Air Force planes, struck known and suspected Communist
positions in the surrounding area. The North Vietnamese did not remain
silent. Artillery, rockets, mortar, and small arms fire pounded the
base and hill positions at intervals throughout the day, playing havoc
with efforts to repair damage. Enemy fire hit one CH-46 helicopter as
it was lifting ott from the airstrip, causing it to crash within the
perimeter.29

At 1200 on the 22d, the 3d Marine Division ordered Lieutenant Colonel
John F. Mitchell's 1st Battalion, 9th Marines to deploy to Khe Sanh.*
Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell recalled that his battalion command group
and two rifle companies arrived by helicopter that day. Mitchell remembered
that as the helicopters landed the battalion was greeted by "a hail
of automatic weapons fire followed by mortar fire" and the unit sustained
its first casualties at Khe Sanh. According to the battalion commander,
there were no guides and he directed his company commanders "to disperse
their companies as best they could, seek protective cover or trenches,
and await further orders." Then Mitchell sought out Colonel Lownds in
the 26th Marines command post. The 26th Marines commander told Lieutenant
Colonel Mitchell to assemble his troops and "be prepared for immediate
deployment due west" of the Khe Sanh base. At Mitchell's request, given
the lateness of the hour. Colonel Lownds agreed that Mitchell could
wait until the following day to deploy to his new sector.30

The next morning, the battalion moved out from the combat base and
spent much of the time in "clearing/reconnoitering the area west/southwest"
of the combat base. Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell selected a small hill
that fronted a rock quarry approximately 1,500 meters to the west southwest
of the main base for his command post and main defensive area. Mitchell
then sent the 1st Platoon of Company A about 500 meters outside the
battalion perimeter on an


* See Chapter six for the redeployment of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines
from Camp Evans.





Page 265 (1968: The Defining Year)